HealthDay News — Maternal depression is more likely among women with only one child at four years postpartum, and is more common at four years postpartum compared with any point during the first 12 months postpartum, results of a study published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology suggest.

To describe the prevalence of maternal depression from pregnancy to four years postpartum, Hannah Woolhouse, DPsych, of the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and Royal Children’s Hospital in Parkville, Australia, and colleagues collected data from 1,507 nulliparous women from six public hospitals. The participants completed questionnaires at recruitment, at three, six, 12, and 18 months postpartum, and at four years postpartum.

In the first four years after birth, almost one in three women reported depressive symptoms at least once, found the researchers. The prevalence of depressive symptoms was 14.5% at four years postpartum and was higher at four years than at any time-point in the first 12 months postpartum.

Compared with women with subsequent children, women with one child at four years postpartum were more likely to report depressive symptoms (22.9% versus 11.3%), and this correlation remained significant after adjustment (adjusted odds ratio, 1.71).

“There is a need for scaling up of current services to extend surveillance of maternal mental health to cover the early years of parenting,” concluded the study authors.


  1. Woolhouse H et al. BJOG. 2014; doi: 10.1111/1471-0528.12837